NEW YORK, Oct. 11, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Reader's Digest has named Yassin's Falafel House in Knoxville, Tennessee the winner of its second annual search for the "Nicest Places in America," a national crowd-sourced effort to shine a light on places where people are kind and treat each other with respect. Yassin's story is featured in the November issue of the magazine and online at www.rd.com/nicest.
Founded by Yassin Terou, a Syrian refugee who came to the U.S. in 2011, Yassin's Falafel House has become a pillar of the Knoxville community, and a place where people of all faiths, preferences and political persuasions come together to share meals. Yassin's is a "safe place" for "all types," signs around the restaurant proudly declare.
"In just a few years, Yassin's has become a hub of welcoming and charity that bridges all potential divides, and Yassin Terou is an inspiration to us all," said Bruce Kelley, Reader's Digest editor-in-chief. "Who would have thought a falafel restaurant would be the rallying point for kindness in not just Knoxville but the nation? But it is. When Yassin arrived as a dislocated refugee and built something that represented how much he has to give to his new community, Knoxville returned his investment with respect, trust and love."
The "Nicest Places in America" program is Reader's Digest's response to the current climate of cultural and political divide. In May 2018, ABC's "Good Morning America" joined Reader's Digest in crowdsourcing online submissions from places large and small across the nation, with co-anchor Robin Roberts serving as the lead judge and appearing with Terou on a bonus cover of the November issue.
"On the surface, if someone said, 'Here's an immigrant, refugee, Muslim who is not only accepted but embraced in Knoxville, Tennessee,' people would look at you sideways," says Roberts. "But having been there and seen for myself the pure joy, I want Yassin's and the other finalists to be little seeds to plant around the country that let everybody know: Nice is not weak. Nice is not a four-letter word."
This year's nationwide search received nearly 450 submissions with representation across all of the continental U.S. The 10 editor-selected "Nicest Place" finalists were announced in June 2018, when voting was opened to the public in partnership with USA Today Network travel site 10best.com. Reader's Digest editors then considered this 62,000-vote vote tally, along with its in-depth reporting on the finalist places and judges' input, to select the "Nicest Place in America."
The complete stories of the finalists and the hundreds of other nominees can be found at rd.com/nicest .
About Reader's Digest
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SOURCE Reader's Digest